Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Going back home...and on the air!

The best thing about IBN (Independent Broadcasting Network) was the fact that after a couple of months they offered me an ISDN unit so I could broadcast from just about anywhere.  My old network never even mentioned that possibility!
It was great because I could now be based in Ft. Lauderdale at home, rent a small office and set it up as a studio (later I would just do the shows from my apartment) and I could work out of the house all day on advertising and guests etc.
One of the first pitches was to the Broward (Ft. Lauderdale)Visitors Bureau and I smartly hired an old friend who worked with us at WINZ and he happened to be black.  We sailed thru the preliminaries and all the way to the Tourist board of politicos and got the financing.  They couldn’t turn us down as money was allocated in part based on the ethnicity of those applying. 
We were to do the show for 13 weeks from one of the big hotels on Ft. Lauderdale Beach...the Yankee Trader.  Since my show was on late I choose the work out of a back office... I did not want to be on display for the drunks so I set up the ISDN in a back office but when I promoted the location the impression was the opposite and it sounded good and was great promotion for the area.  We also ran a few spots each night for the beach and hotel.  The deal worked well for me and for them.
I would later set up the ISDN to broadcast from the marvelous Peabody Hotel in Orlando.  The publicity gal there Maureen Gonzalez, was wonderful and I got a free suite and dinner in their top class restaurant as I wrote formal reviews for it and they displayed those in the hotel lobby.  She gave me a open invitation anytime I wanted it all that and we must have taken advantage of it about half a dozen times over the years.  I broadcast my show live from there at least twice.  It was great because my show was carried on one of the big local Orlando stations.
When the 13 week contract was up I moved the show to a radio station in Miami WMBM on South Beach.  South Beach was the hottest spot in America...helped by Don Johnson and Miami Vice (now past history but still in replays everywhere!)
I screwed up by offering to do the station’s afternoon drive show thinking they would sell some ads and split with me but this meant two round trips a day to South Beach...rough.  they didn’t do well on the sales so that deal finally fizzled out.
I rented another office near a new house we had bought in Coral Springs in a nice neighborhood.  The house had a pool so the kids were more popular than ever!  I would end up doing the show from one of the bedrooms and saving money by not renting an office.
1993 and 94 and the first five months of 95 were good years.  And yes...Art Bell was making inroads with some of my stations.
But Art was not the problem yet....Sonny Block was.
Doug Stephan who followed me on the network each day with his morning drive program (he still doing it) called me in early may of 1995 and said he was flying in to by me lunch or dinner.  He said it was urgent.
We met at the Yankee Trader Hotel on the beach for lunch and Doug shocked me with the news that we both had to drop our shows on Sonny’s network immediately and move them to a Boston syndicator called “Talkamerica” network.  
He said Sonny was going to be indicted in the next few days and we had to split off fast.  Seems Sonny had been doing some questionable stuff investor-wise and his WOR show was in trouble (he actually bought the time there which amazed me as that was such a huge New York station).
So I went on the air that night as usual and then the next morning I called the boss at the network and told him I resigned immediately.  He was shocked.  Doug did the same thing and the roof fell in on Block the next day after that.
I hit the air on the new network that night and Doug’s show followed me.  This time the switch went well as the stations were alerted about it twenty-four hours in advance.  Doug had worked all that out up in Boston. 
Sonny Block’s commercials ran on both our shows and it occurred to me that I might be vulnerable because of that...but I heard nothing about it...ever.  
For Doug and went on.  In a couple of years we would even end up on a third network...Radio America out of D.C.
But for now...I just had Art Bell to worry about but my station list basically held firm and Gold Bond was still sending the spots and the checks.

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